What is school for?


Seth Godin’s speaking is one way of summarizing all we’ve discussed through this course. Students need to be taught how to connect dots, not to collect dots; in other words we should teach them how to think not what to think. Although I agree with Seth Godin on most things, I don’t agree all “eight things that he thinks are going to change completely”.

  1. Homework by day, lectures by night.
  2. No memorization.
  3. No predetermined course order.
  4. Precise, focused education.
  5. Experience based.
  6. Coach not teacher.
  7. Lifelong learning.
  8. No brand name colleges.

Especially one reply of the TED talk said that “How can you . . . . you who attended Tufts and Stanford. . . . . . that college did not help. YOU are the ultimate beneficiary of a college education. It is highly unlikely you would be in the position that you are in, without this. Rather hypocritical here. (David Orman).” I agree with the comment. This comment leads me to think of this in a different way than what Godin mentioned. Simply, we are able to have a chance think this type of issue with all resources because we are here at VT and especially we are taking this course. The brand name and raking of institute mean a lot in many different ways for students and society. The reputation of an institution is not only one of academic motivation to the students, also it symbolizes its contribution of intellectual part in its society.  Also, the reputation/brand of institute is the system we’ve created through industrialization; there have been numerous educational systems in different shapes through human history. I believe the problem is not brand name but the ranking system to order all institutions in one way of evaluation.

3 Replies to “What is school for?”

  1. I will add to your comments about the ranking of colleges. According to a 2012 article, “several colleges in recent years have been caught gaming the system — in particular, the avidly watched U.S. News & World Report rankings — by twisting the meanings of rules, cherry-picking data or just lying” (Pérez-Peña & Slotnik, 2012). This is makes me think that we should exercise caution when considering rankings.

    I will add that professors may consider rankings in employment decisions (Pérez-Peña & Slotnik, 2012). “But repeated revelations of manipulation show the importance of the rankings in the minds of prospective students, their guidance counselors, parents, the alumni considering donations, the professors weighing job offers — and, of course, the colleges themselves” (Pérez-Peña & Slotnik, 2012).

    Pérez-Peña, R. & Slotnik, D.E. (2012, January 31). Gaming the College Rankings. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/01/education/gaming-the-college-rankings.html

  2. I really appreciate your comment, and I agree that to have the kind of idealistic educational format he suggests would need A LOT of different interventions to become a reality, including the issues of school ranking and name recognition. Also, some of his suggestions come from a real place of privilege. For instance, Homework by day, lectures by night takes for granted that students life in an environment where they can access devices to watch the lectures and have an environment that allows for them to listen easily (quiet, stress-free, physically and emotionally safe, etc.).

  3. I also disagree with some of his points. The one that stood out the most was the first one. This idea of flipped classrooms puts a heavy burden on students to learn on their own time. I couldn’t imagine having to learn organic chemistry or physical chemistry on my own. The most you could do with the flipped model would be to review the lecture and re-listen to the same example that didn’t allow you to connect the dots in the first place. At worst, the student uses Wikipedia to mostly inaccurately simplify a potentially complex idea. I feel that students need to have a bulk of their introduction to new information be inside a classroom, or at least with someone who is readily available to re-explain a complex topic in a new way. This “innovative” classroom design puts the bulk of learning on the students, and their collaboration with others who may actually understand or may be completely wrong.

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